Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Oceans Forever: David Helvarg is Saved by the Sea

The other day, Eco Ocean proposed that the sea can nourish the soul. David Helvarg's new book, Saved by the Sea, a remarkably frank and touching memoir, shows us how that works.

A journalist and forceful ocean advocate including founder and president of the Blue Frontier Campaign, Helvarg reminds us of the power and beauty of the sea -- both universal and personal. 

He has a great understanding of the challenges facing the oceans, and he refreshingly, like me, admits that even he is not certain we can turn it around.

Yet he never errs on the side of doom and gloom. His is the story of a true fighter for social good, a carryover from the sixties and seventies, a believer in the will of the people informed by common good to make the world a better place.

He also fully gets what's at stake. “It’s (the ocean) the oxygen pump that never quits, the maker of atmosphere, rain, and fog and the buffer of chemical balances, the paddle wheel of circulating vapors that is the bouillabaisse and the crucible of life, both the soup and the pot it comes in,” he writes.  

He is the one who regularly says the number one way to save the seas is to go to the beach, because we will protect what we love.

In Saved by the Sea, he regularly takes us to the beach and under the sea and over the swells. He recounts a wide variety of mouth-watering dives and surfs on travels far and wide that breathe life into his story. 

But as the book's title indicates, there’s something else going on here.

With honesty and the straightforward detail of a world class journalist, he shares with us the loss of his life's love to cancer. She also loved the ocean, and it brought them together to share many wonderful deep blue experiences.

As he deals with this, like a mellow roller slipping over our heads on a sunny day, Helvarg refreshingly captures one very important essence of the sea, possibly the essence of the sea.

Placed next to a very personal and human story of love and loss, Saved by the Sea taps into what many of us intuitively sense; that the ocean is a balm, a cure.

With its raw beauty, the ocean transports us and yes, cleanses our souls. It can save us when we need saving, and it seems to have saved Helvarg. He captures this curative power of the sea without sounding trite, sentimental, or melancholy. 

And his experience generates passionate words about saving the seas that resonate, “All I know is that if we don’t try, we lose. And this salty blue world of ours is too heart-achingly beautiful, scary, and sacred to lose."

Maybe this book, Saved by the Sea, was a purge for Helvarg, an exercise he had to do. Whatever the case, we are happier that he’s made it available to us. 

Link to Saved by the Sea on Amazon.
Link to Blue Frontier Campaign.

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